Saturday, January 23, 2016

How to be a Fit Parent

This past year was a very big year for me.  I graduated from physical therapy school, moved from TN to SC, landed a new job, bought a house, and best of all had a baby boy!  For the longest time it was just me, my wife, and our golden retriever.  Our days were spent doing outdoor activities and our nights were spent going out to local eateries and establishments. Life was good.  We had plenty of time for leisure and exercise on top of our weekly chores and obligations.

But things are different now.  Not in a bad way at all, but different.  Now we spend our mornings and nights tip-toeing around trying not to wake the baby.  Our evenings are a ritual of feeding, bathing, dressing, and rocking.  And our days are spent trying to decide which stroller to bring, how many bottles to pack, and how many layers of clothes we should put on our son.  Another aspect that is different is time for exercise.



Before we had our son my normal routine was to workout at the gym at the end of the day.  I would spend an hour at the gym then come home prior to dinner.  This was my routine for the last 6 years. But when we had our son that routine did not jive.  After working a full day, stopping at the gym for an hour did not work for me or my wife.  She needed a break from "supervising" our child all day, and I wanted to get home to see me family.  So how is a new dad supposed to be there for his family while still maintaining his fitness? 

Well with today's post I would like to share how a new parent can accomplish just that.  These are my Strategies for Being a Fit Parent.

Workout at home (most workouts)
This might be the most important strategy of all.  By working out at home you cut down on time, you spend less money, and you get to see your family while you are working out.  You can work out in your living room, garage, etc. and have your family there with you.  I sometimes put my son in his play things and let him watch me.  Sometimes I hold him and do squats or lunges.  Other times him and my wife simply come in and say "Hi" while I am in the middle of a set.  It really makes a big difference in feeling like you are there with them. I am not saying that you have to give up the gym completely, however.  I have a cheap gym membership that I use once a week, usually on Sundays.  After a weekend of spending time with my family I will go to the gym Sunday evening for an hour of quality iron time.  

Do full body workouts
Now I have always been a fan of full body workouts but I have noticed that they are also very conducive to a tight schedule.  Think about it.  With full body workouts you typically have 3 workouts per week on non-consecutive days.  For me I usually do Tue, Thur, and Sunday. Those days I set aside an hour for exercise. The in between days I reserve for family time.  On the other hand, if you decide to break up your training into splits such as leg day, arm day, core day, etc., you could be working out 4-5 days per week.  That is time that you could be playing with your kids, helping your spouse with chores, etc.  Full body workouts are also time efficient and create a large metabolic effect that is ideal for weight loss and cardio maintenance(if done with minimal rest).

Schedule your workouts
This one will be more specific to each person's schedule.  Personally I have found early morning workouts to be optimal.  Usually everyone is still sleeping and that leaves all of your evenings open for family time.  The only problem is that I don't like working out in the morning.  I tried it for the first few months after our son was born and it just did not work for me.  So I switched back to evening workouts.  That just meant I had to plan better.  Now I workout 2 week nights and I schedule on days that we are eating left overs.  Those nights are typically easier for us and don't require as much running around.  The other workout, as I mentioned, I do on Sunday evenings. Another great option, if you have the choice, is to work out on a lunch break.  You are typically away from your family anyway and it doesn't take a whole hour to eat a lunch.  Look for a gym close to your work or just make due with your actual work place(i.e. stair workouts).

Be active with your family
This one should be a given but it is still work stating.  Being active with your family will not only help you as a parent stay fit and healthy, but it will allow you to spend quality time with your loved ones away from TV, internet, and electronics. When the weather allows we constantly go on walks with our baby and dog.  We walk around our neighborhood, go hiking, or simply walk around downtown.  Kids crave movement and as adults we don't move nearly enough.  I would challenge you to do all the things that a baby does while playing.  Try crawling, rolling, squatting, reaching,  and lifting for 30 minutes straight and tell me you don't feel like you had a workout!

So those are my strategies for staying fit while transitioning to parenthood.  Some people make the excuse that they would rather be there for their kids instead of workout, but it is not a one or the other situation.  You can do both! Furthermore, it will set a great example for your kids that living an activity and healthy lifestyle is important. 

 Stay Fit,
      Amerson Fitness

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